The Impact of Professional and Collegiate Sports on Sportsmanship at the High School Level Lane Green, CMAA District Director of AthleticsOlathe Public Schools, Kansas firstname.lastname@example.org
Homer Simpson on “Sportsmanship. “This ticket doesn’t just give me a seat, it gives me the right; no, the duty, to make a complete &@## of myself at the game.” Homer Simpson in 1990
Mark Twain’s Definition of “Sportsmanship. “It is good sportsmanship not to pick up lost golf balls when they are still rolling”
THE MISSION OF HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS The mission of high school sports is to serve as a positive force in the education of young persons, with the ultimate purpose of that education being to create successful human beings. The education-focused mission of school athletics is significantly different from the entertainment-oriented objectives of professional and, sometimes, college sports. The guiding principles of school sports programs should be to develop in student-athletes qualities of sportsmanship, integrity, respect for others, teamwork, leadership, aspiration, work ethic, personal accountability, physical fitness, and healthy lifestyle. The pursuit of victory is important, but only to the extent that winning contributes to these higher, character-building goals of sport. Participation in and attendance at school athletics events is a privilege conditioned on sportsmanlike behavior consistent with this mission.
KC Chiefs vs. Pittsburg SteelersLast Night Chiefs Touchdown Celebration: Justin Houston TD Dance Leads To Penalty, TD Then Gets Negated
Examples of the “Trickle-Down” from Professional and Collegiate Athletics A Kansas City area high school delays the start of a basketball game as they frantically try to clean up baby powder off a basketball court after the student cheering section throws the powder into the air in Lebron James fashion as the school introduces the starting lineups. In October 2010, the OHSAA included in the basketball tournament regulations a prohibition against fans throwing anything onto the court or into the air, such as talcum powder. As a pre-game ritual, Lebron James throws talcum powder in the air. Professional Sports Scholastic Sports
Examples of the “Trickle-Down” from Professional and Collegiate Athletics “. . . and the home of the brave Chiefs.” Many high schools mimic professional sports as they yell their mascot name in place of the word “Brave” at the conclusion of the national anthem. Angry fans shout “Bull S#@!” after an official’s call. Many high schools mimic professional sports as they yell “Bull S#@!” or its equivalent after an official’s call. At the University of Kansas, students yell “Rip his #@%#ing head off during kickoffs. At a small-town Kansas high school students yell “Rip his #@%#ing head off during kickoffs. Professional Sports Scholastic Sports
Wyoming Head Football Coach Dave Christensen $50,000 :37 14 (once every 2.47 seconds) “Mister ##%#&ing Howdy Doody and “##%#&ing Fly Boy”
Thoughts on Coach Christensen “We act out on the world stage what is missing inside us” “How we treat other people is not how we feel about them. Rather, it is how we feel about ourselves”
Recent Examples of Sportsmanship Issues at the Interscholastic Level • Coaches Question Refs' Decision to Eliminate Post-Game Handshakes – After a recent high school football game in California, the officials did not allow the teams to shake hands due to a recent scuffle that broke out during one team’s handshakes the week before. • Offshore sites taking bets on high school football - Concerns are being raised with two online betting services based in Costa Rica (SportBet and 5Dimes). Lines usually set on TV games. • Ohio Football Player Charged with Assault - For prodding opposing players with a tack during post-game handshake.
Recent Examples of Sportsmanship Issues at the Interscholastic Level • Harsh-Language Use Prompts Code of Conduct for Coaches, Parents - Tennessee youth sports league develops Code of Conduct due to disturbing increase in inappropriate language aimed at officials. • Fight Between Players After Georgia High School Football Coach Injured- Georgia high school football player attacks opposing football coach after game by using helmet as a weapon. • 4 California Football Players Suspended After Postgame Argument and Shoving Match – After a recent high school football game in California, a postgame altercation moved from stadium to the parking lot. Police and security forced to break melee up.
THREATS TO EDUCATION-BASED ATHLETICS A Sane Island Surrounded Jack Roberts, Executive Director of the MHSAA Phi Delta Kappan (2007) • The growth in popularity of professional sports parallels the introduction of television. Networks televise all kinds of sports, every day of the week, at all hours of the day. • School sports programs find themselves under the assault of major college athletics, professional sports and nonschool community youth sports programs. • Athletes have been pushed towards competition at earlier ages and in longer seasons. • Mr. Roberts contends that commercialism and professionalism result in less emphasis on the educational value of athletics and more emphasis on winning and extrinsic awards.
THREATS TO EDUCATION-BASED ATHLETICS Stakeholders’ Perceptions of Social-Emotional and Life Skill Development Issues Characterizing Contemporary High School Sports Daniel Gould (Director of the Institute for Youth Sport )- MSU along w/ Sarah Carson, Angela Fifer, Larry Lauer (MSU) Robert Benham (University of Hawaii) Journal of Coaching Education (NASPE – 2009) • A study designed to identify issues and concerns involved in contemporary school sports that are perceived as influencing sports’ potential to achieve educational and developmental objectives. • Study utilized focus groups including coaches, AD’s, principals, parents, and student-athletes.
THREATS TO EDUCATION-BASED ATHLETICS Stakeholders’ Perceptions of Social-Emotional and Life Skill Development Issues Characterizing Contemporary High School Sports Findings included, but were not limited to: • Inappropriate behaviors are exhibited by athletes, coaches, media, parents and fans. • Poor sportsmanship was identified as a problem. “High school fans were described as having poor sportsmanship and seeing poor behavior as funny.” • “Many coaches and officials are discontinuing involvement because of the constant criticism by parents and spectators and the poor sportsmanship displayed.
THREATS TO EDUCATION-BASED ATHLETICS One Hundred And Two Days Of “Sportscenter”: Messages Of Poor Sportsmanship, Violence And Immorality Steven Aicinena (1999) University of Texas of the Permian Basin – Odessa, Texas • The purpose of the study was to collect and describe the verbal comments made during 102 editions of ESPN’s Sportscenter. • The programs were viewed on tape delay between January and June of 1996. • Over 1,700 comments by the program’s anchors, coaches, athletes, owners, etc. were recorded. Routine reporting of scores or descriptions of standard play were not recorded. • 355 of the comments recorded fell under the category of sportsmanship or morality issues. • 352 of these comments were negative.
THREATS TO EDUCATION-BASED ATHLETICS One Hundred And Two Days Of “Sportscenter”: Messages Of Poor Sportsmanship, Violence And Immorality • Data analysis indicated that sports as presented on Sportscenter was rife with poor sportsmanship, violence, and immoral behavior. • With regards to sportsmanship, there were numerous comments regarding coaches and athletes yelling at officials, the awarding of technical fouls for unsporting behavior, the throwing or destruction of equipment after plays, ejections from contests, taunting and trash talking. • Examples of bad sportsmanship were much more frequent at the professional than the collegiate level. • Good sportsmanship and acts considered to be morally uplifting were rarely commented on. In fact, on only three (3) occasions were comments regarding acts of good sportsmanship recorded.
THE MEDIA AND SPORTS Stanley Eitzen and George H. Sage said in their book, Sociology of North American Sport, “The media is said to serve the following functions in American society: to entertain, to inform, to integrate and to act as an agent of social change.” as a result . . . • According to Steven Aicinena, the Sportscenter study informs us that sportsmanship at the professional level and, to a great extent, at the collegiate level is “almost nonexistent.” • Also, “If it (the media) serves to integrate and bring about change, the negative aspects of sport may be expected to become more frequently observed at all levels of play in America.”
THE MEDIA AND SPORTS Lee Andrew Henderson, a writer for the Yahoo network wrote in a 2007 column entitled “Does ESPN Promote Bad Sportsmanship.” “When there is violence and sex on movies, we are told they are promoting violence and sex. When we see violence and swearing in video games, we are told they are promoting violence and swearing. So if Sportscenter talks about bad sportsmanship and immoral behavior, aren’t they also promoting it? If the only way to get on Sportscenter is to get into trouble, be cocky, get in fights, or show up the other team then that is what kids are going to do because kids want to be on Sportscenter someday.”
THREATS TO EDUCATION-BASED ATHLETICS Sportsmanship Efforts Must Continue Robert B. Gardner, NFHS Executive Director Nian Van Erk, NFHS President High School Today (November 2010) • “As we attended the NFHS Section Meetings this fall, there was a persistent concern voiced by our member state associations – sportsmanship. Whether it be sportsmanship issues related to fans, coaches or players, these leaders of high school athletics . . . Expressed feelings that the overall environment was not as positive as they would have hoped and liked it to be.” • “High school athletes often emulate attitudes and actions of those individuals in higher levels of competition that they regard as role models.”
Legal Issues Related to Spectator Behavior Policies and Event Supervision Kay v. Tucson School DistrictHigh school basketball player trampled and left partially paralyzed when crowd storms court after big rivalry win. Brin v. University of WisconsinMultiple fans trampled and one hit on head by falling goalpost when estimated 12,000 fans rush field after big rivalry win. Weldy v. Oakland Unified High School DistrictUnsportsmanlike conduct in crowd escalates into near riot with multiple fans injured by thrown objects including bottles. Wiersma v. Long Beach USDWrestling match riot after tension in stands between fans of teams; dozens injured with most severe being fan hit by folding chair.
Legal Issues Related to Spectator Behavior Policies and Event Supervision Harris v. Independence School DistrictFight on court causes tension in stands to escalate and taunting escalates into melee in bleachers; dozens of fans injured. Woodring v. Manhasset Board of EducationCrowd surge towards football field after game causes side railing on bleacher to collapse and fans to fall; one student died. Witherspoon v. HaftUnruly crowd at high school football game filled with taunting gets so out of control that fans stampede and student dies in fall. Whitfield v. Macon County Board of EducationRivalry hoops game filled with unsportsmanlike conduct in crowd leads to multiple fights and one fan being shot in school hallway. Turner v. Caddo Parish School BoardFans in overflow hoops crowd allowed to stand at end of court and taunts lead to on-court fight and injury to grandmother-spectator.
Developing a Spectator Behavior Policy Key To An Effective Spectator Behavior Policy: Reasonable, enforceable, and easily communicable guidelines for spectator behavior that are consistent with the mission of high school athletics. Substantive Content Of A Spectator Behavior Policy: A Statement Of The Purpose Of The Policy: See Mission on Slide #2. A List Of Objects Prohibited From The Event: Weapons, alcohol, drugs, items that can be thrown, noisemakers (megaphones, air horns, bells, whistles, clickers, thunder sticks, drums, jars of coins, vuvuzelas, etc), objectionable signs, objectionable clothing, laser pointers, and other objects the purpose for which is to engage in unsportsmanlike behaviors at the event. A List Of Behaviors Prohibited At The Event: Taunting the opposing team, players, coaches, or crowd; berating opposing players, coaches or the officials; verbalizing personal attacks against players, coaches, or officials; making obscene gestures or yelling obscene cheers; engaging in demeaning acts such as yelling “air ball,” turning backwards during player introductions, or holding up newspapers during introductions; throwing objects into the playing area; displaying negative signs or yelling negative comments; entering the playing area at any time before, during, or after the event; or engaging in any other form of unsportsmanlike behavior during the event.
Developing a Spectator Behavior Policy An Explanation Of The Sanctions For Violating The Policy: Develop a sliding scale of sanctions that are proportional to the various types of misconduct and plan ahead as to how to enforce those sanctions and the circumstances under which spectators will be ejected from the event and/or suspended from attending future events. Maybe consider using a yellow card/red card system or a Court of Sport “teachable moment” system for student violators of the behavior policy. Communication Of Spectator Behavior Policy: A combination of media should be used, including public address announcements, signs at ticket booths, signs at entrance gates to facilities, signage inside venues, information on tickets (if feasible), information in game programs, information in flyers distributed to certain sections at games (parent seating, student seating, etc), and extensive verbal communications by event managers (athletics personnel, faculty supervisors, school resource officers, etc) to fans. Enforcement Of Spectator Behavior Policy: Pre-event training for event managers, emphasizing procedures for dealing with various types of spectator misconduct and sanctions for misbehavior; ensuring an adequate number of event managers (a reasonable ratio of supervisors to spectators); and emphasizing up-close and personal enforcement of the policy throughout the event.
Some Suggested Interventions • Meet with student leaders (both those in formal leadership positions as well as those students who are perceived as leaders) to communicate expectations with regards to sportsmanship. • Likewise, meet with parents to communicate the school’s expectations. • Hold a league-wide “Sportsmanship Summit” with students to discuss expectations, guidelines. This develops a consistency among league schools (i.e. – one school allows the “air ball” while another school prohibits the chant. • Utilize a card system as they do in soccer. Have student leaders distribute yellow and red cards to unruly fans.
More Suggested Interventions • Utilize your band or cheerleaders to drown out improper chants if at an appropriate time of the game. • The coach bears the greatest burden of responsibility for sportsmanship. Their influence upon the attitudes and behavior of the players, the student body and the community are unequalled. • Create a healthy distance between the student sections. • Make sportsmanship a defined goal. Have officials complete sportsmanship scorecards at each game during a season. The team with the best overall score wins the League Sportsmanship Championship.
Virginia’s public high schools, through their alliance as the Virginia High School league, serve their youth by establishing and maintaining standards for student activities and competitions that promote education, personal growth, leadership, sportsmanship and citizenship. SAMPLE SPORTSMANSHIP PLEDGE The Above Banner Hangs in Every Gym in the League
YELLOW AND RED CARDS Please model poise and confidence, our athletes need this Your behavior continues to be inappropriate, please leave the game
Even More Suggested Interventions • Appoint “Superfans” and them in games for free. They are in charge of student conduct and leading appropriate cheers. • Print sportsmanship mission statement in game programs. • Have a student-athlete read a sportsmanship pledge prior to games. • Increase paid security at games. • Use “proximity” by having administrators sit by unruly fans. • Implement a league-wide chanting policy. • Utilize contracts for students. • Supervisors have to pick their battles with student sections. • Utilize the students in the front row to help control the student body.
Resources • Champions of Character Program http://www.championsofcharacter.org/ The Champions of Character program is sponsored by the NAIA designed to instill an understanding of character values in sport and provide practical tools for student athletes, coaches and parents to use in modeling exemplary character traits. • Josephson Institute http://josephsoninstitute.org/ - Nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the ethical quality of society by advocating for principled reasoning & ethical decisions • Character Counts Sportsmanship Newsletter – Free on-line newsletter published by the Josephson Institute. • Institute for the Study of Youth Sports at MSU http://www.educ.msu.edu/ysi/ Provides Educational resources for coaches, athletic administrators, parents, and athletes. • International Association of Venue Managershttp://www.iaam.org – Committed to the operation of event venues by providing education, research, life safety and security training. • High School Activities Associations – Many high school activities associations have wonderful resources. For example, the Michigan High School Athletic Association at http://www.mhsaa.com/. • What Kids Wish Their Parents Knew about Sportsmanship (Video) – A 5-Minute video about sportsmanship which provides an excellent tool AD’s can use during meetings with student-athletes and parents. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ho6ae09ZcWQ • MIAA Entry for the Student Essay/Multimedia Contest (Video) – Images of sportsmanship with Chariots of Fire as the soundtrack. Produced by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Assoc. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJhSDvvTrdA&feature=fvw • Injured Softball Player Carried Around Bases by Opponents (Video) – Central Washington players carry opponent around base path after tearing her ACL rounding first base. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVIKtI7yd_s